U.S. News

Exxon Beaumont CDU overhaul to be slowed by accident: sources

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The overhaul of the small crude distillation unit at Exxon Mobil Corp’s 344,600 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Beaumont, Texas is expected to be slowed due to a fatal accident, sources familiar with plant operations said.

A contract worker died after he was struck by a portion of a giant heat exchanger included in the overhaul of the 110,000 bpd Crude A CDU at about 12:30 a.m. CDT (0530 GMT) on Wednesday, the sources said.

An Exxon spokesman declined to discuss the pace of planned maintenance at the refinery. The company has not said what units are shut down for the work.

“We are currently focused on the investigation and the tragic incident today, it would be inappropriate to comment or speculate on timelines at this point,” said Exxon’s Todd Spitler.

The worker’s name has not been released. He was an employee of AltairStrickland, an industrial engineering company specializing in refinery and petrochemical plant projects.

AltairStrickland did not reply to phone messages requesting comment.

KBMT-TV in Beaumont said the deceased worker was 37 years old and from Brownsville, Texas.

In addition to delays stemming from work being stopped at the location of the accident, the investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration could also slow or temporarily stop the overhaul, the sources said.

Exxon shut the small CDU on April 22 for a revamp scheduled to finish by June 30. The work is to prepare the unit for an expansion of the refinery with the eventual addition of a third CDU that would at least double the Beaumont refinery’s capacity.

The refinery’s large CDU, the 240,000 bpd Crude B Unit, remains in operation at the Beaumont refinery.

CDUs do the initial refining of crude oil coming into a refinery and provide feedstock for all other units.

Reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston and Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Biju Dwarakanath